What Recruiters and Hiring Managers are Actually Looking For

 “Problem-solving skills” ... “detail-oriented” … “team player” … “self-motivated” … 

“knowledge of specific technical skill set” … “social media expert”

We’ve all seen these phrases or something similar when job hunting. Companies list the skills and requirements that must be met to apply for the position, and if you’re lucky you qualify. You apply for the job, you land an interview, and you start prepping. But all of these amorphous terms of what the company is looking for can’t be the only thing that grants you the job. So what are recruiters and hiring managers actually looking for?


Yes, recruiters are looking for qualified, competent people to fill a company role, but that’s not their only motivation. They’re also looking for someone the hiring manager will like. Recruiters know the type of person who will be impressive, and they want to look good in front of their boss. You want to be a candidate who will make them look good.

Hiring Managers

Bottom line, hiring managers are looking for someone they want to work with. Period. Yes, certain criteria must be met, but if you seem like you’ll be a good colleague, they might overlook some issues and skills that don’t meet all of the requirements. You want to be seen as a good colleague. 


So what can you do? Admittedly, these solutions are mostly personality-based, but they’re just as important as any “problem solving” or “team player” skill you’ll find on a job board.

  • Be reaffirming. In the interview, ask questions about your interviewer and be interested in what they have to say.
  • Be likeable. Smile. Have an open body language (no crossed arms). Make eye contact.
  • Be authentic. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Authenticity shines through, always.

Lastly, recruiters and hiring managers are always looking to expand their network. If you have higher up connections, drop some names in during the interview process. 

Arming yourself with this knowledge will hopefully help you nail that job interview. If you’re feeling nervous, or you’d like to practice some of these skills with an interview expert, schedule an hour with our career coaches. The preparation will leave you feeling confident in your abilities, ready to take on the job hunting world.